Spinal block is an injection which you receive below the spinal column directly into the spinal fluid in order to numb your lower body.
This is given only once and it provides relief from pain for up to two hours.
Don’t get confused with spinal and epidural injection. There are two ways to differentiate the spinal block from an epidural.
Spinal block is delivered directly into the spinal fluid, but not into the area surrounding the spine and is a one-time injection instead of a constant feed by using a catheter.
Because of this, there will be rapid and complete relief from the pains, but this lasts only for a few hours.
The practitioner orders for a spinal block if you want pain relief late during labor or if there is rapid progression of the labor and the delivery is sooner and there is no time to wait for an epidural.
The practitioner also considers spinal block as an option if you want to have a cesarean section.
Advantages of receiving a spinal block during labor
- You will get quick and complete pain relief within a few minutes of administering the injection.
- In contrast to narcotics, only a small quantity of medication reaches your baby’s body.
Disadvantages of receiving spinal block during labor
- During the procedure, you need to reside in an awkward position for 5-10 minutes.
- There is a necessity for continuous fetal monitoring but you need not get out of bed.
- Temporarily this drug lowers your blood pressure, reduces the flow of blood to your baby, which leads to a decreased heart rate in your baby.
- The loss of sensation makes it difficult for you to push the baby out, thus leading to a longer pushing stage and increasing the chances of requiring forceps delivery or a vacuum extraction. This again increases the threat for serious laceration.
- The use of narcotics can lead to itchiness on your face. Also, it can lead to light-headedness and nausea and most women experience nausea and throw up at the time of labor without the use of pain medications.
- In very rare situations, spinal block leads to an uncomfortable itchy sensation in your buttocks or legs and this condition lasts for a few days.
- There is a high risk of spinal headache when compared with an epidural.
- Sometimes there will be a loss of bladder control.
- In some rare cases, spinal block affects the breathing and can lead to nerve injury or infection.
Not every pregnant woman is eligible to receive spinal block. You are not eligible to receive a spinal block if you have any of the following conditions:
- Unusually low blood pressure;
- Blood infection;
- Bleeding disorder;
- Any skin infection in the area of needle insertion in your lower back;
- Allergic reaction to any local anesthetics.
Before going to consider this option, it is better to know about the disadvantages of spinal block and its effects on your baby.